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Bannock Bread: Fuel of Champions

Photo license: Alan Levine on Flickr under CC 2.0.

Bread universally represents nourishment. Since the beginning of time, man has depended on it for survival. It was not always possible for one to purchase bread at the local grocery store. So, what did people do? They made bread from scratch.

Bannock bread is referenced in historical writings as early as the year 1000. While the word “bannock” is Scottish in origin, the bread is known to also have been used by Native North Americans, native Australians, and Tibetans. In fact, almost every group of people worldwide seems to have its own recipe and method for a quick, easy bread.

In modern-day America, it is easy for every prepper to have a reliable bannock bread recipe in his or her arsenal of emergency meals. With long shelf-life ingredients and the simplicity of the recipe, bannock bread also makes a great food item to bring on camping trips.

Since bannock bread has been around for so long, there are many variations of the recipe. In any of the recipes listed below, the dry ingredients can be combined together into a sealable plastic bag (or an air-tight environmentally friendly container) and kept on hand until needed.

Some of the recipes listed here are not as camp-friendly as others. Meaning, it would be easier to follow these particular recipes in the comfort of your home, with access to kitchen appliances. These will be included since it is likely that a scenario could come up where bannock bread would need to be made at home.

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Also, some people enjoy bannock bread and make it for regular use. These recipes can be a great alternative for someone wanting to cut out the GMO ingredients commonly found in commercially produced breads (depending on your ingredients sources).

Quick Tips

You will notice that these recipes include essentially the same ingredients, just in different ratios. So here are a few tips as you decide which route to take your bannock bread. First, use baking powder, not baking soda. The baking powder is a better leavening agent and will give you a lighter consistency and texture.

Also, use warm water (if available) instead of cold. Warm water will assist the leavening properties of the baking powder. And as far as shortening goes, anything goes. Bear fat has been touted as a tasty addition to the bread, although bacon fat seems to be the more popular choice.

If neither are available and you are looking for a more long-lasting shortening in your kitchen pantry, use a type of vegetable shortening that does not require refrigeration. Just remember, the ingredients will mix better if you cut the shortening into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or knife before adding water.

Also, while there are many types of flour available to use (particularly if you grow your own), these recipes are assuming that you will use regular white or wheat flour from the grocery store. If you choose to go a different route with the flour, you may find that you need to switch up the ratios of the other ingredients.

Finally, you can create a variety of bannock breads with your add-ins. Create a potato bannock with instant potato flakes, a fruit bannock with mixed berries, Italian bannock with some Italian dressing and herbs, or oatmeal bannock with instant oatmeal packets. Then honey, brown sugar, and/or cinnamon can be used to top off your warm, crusty piece of homemade bannock.

Recipes

1) This first recipe is fairly basic, although it does include a lot of powdered dry milk. This addition would make the bread a little sweeter than other recipes.

Along with the ¼ cup of dry milk, you combine:

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon shortening

1 cup of either a white flour or wheat and white flour combined (if you attempt to make it entirely with wheat flour, the bread will be too heavy. A ratio of 1 part white to 1 part wheat flour is the highest that would work with this bread).

These are the ingredients that you would combine in your airtight container ahead of time. If possible, cut the shortening into the rest of the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or fork. This will make the dough smoother and help it cook more consistently throughout.

2) This next recipe calls for significantly more flour than the previous recipe. That, along with the lack of powdered milk, will give you a more “bready” and less sweet product, which would pair well with a savory dinner of stew or venison. If you are a die-hard sweets fan; it is possible to top the bread with a little sugar at the end.

In your airtight container, combine:

½ teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoons sugar

2 ½ cups flour

This recipe deviates from most other recipes by specifying the addition of 1 cup of water and 3 tablespoons of oil when you are ready to prepare the dough. When you see the addition of oil in a bannock bread recipe, it is simply assuming that you are intending to use the frying pan cooking method.

3) The third recipe mixes up the ingredient ratios yet again, allowing for a slightly different flavor/taste than the previous two.

The dry ingredients for the container are:

2 tablespoons powdered milk (optional for this recipe)

¼ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon shortening

1 cup flour

Any other additions at your disposal (non-toxic berries, cinnamon and sugar, raisins).

For this combination, it is suggested that you start off with adding 1/3 cup of water, mix it in, then add more if necessary. Be cautious with adding in water because it is easier to add more, than it is to take out. The thinnest that you would want your dough is the consistency of muffin batter.

4) The fourth method includes milk. However you want to go about that is fine, but if you are someone who is trying to prep emergency rations or meals for an extended camping trip, this may not be the best choice for you.

The dry ingredients are:

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 cups flour

This recipe then calls for ¾ cup of milk to be added to the dry ingredients, instead of water. However, if have dry powdered milk on hand, you could simply add in an appropriate amount and still use water. Next, it is suggested to fry the dough with about ¼ of an inch of oil in a frying pan. So if you wanted to use one of the other cooking methods discussed later, you would need to adjust the quantities of liquids in the dough to get an appropriate consistency.

5) A final variation calls for the shortening (specifically, lard in this case) to be melted, cooled a little, then poured into the middle of the mixed dry ingredients:

3 teaspoons baking powder

4 cups flour

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Then, add up to 3 cups of cool water (just until the dough is firm, but not sticky). If you end up adding too much water, just add in more flour. This recipe is intended to be made with any of the cooking methods described in the next section.

Cooking Methods

Once you have your dough prepared, bannock bread can be baked one of three ways: on a cooking surface, wrapped around a stick, or directly on the coals.

If you have access to a frying pan/hearth and a source of heat, this method seems to produce a tastier, pancake-like version (frying ANYTHING makes it taste better, right?). Ideally, the cooking surface would not be so hot that the oil is smoking. If the pan is too hot, then the outside of the bread will cook too quickly, leaving you with a crusty shell and gooey inside.

However, this method does require some patience. Depending on which recipe you choose (and whether or not a leavening agent is used), the bread may need to rise a little first on the cooktop before it starts to slowly cook. It will, depending on how much water you added, range from an actual fried “pancake” to a loaf-like cake.

An experienced outdoorsman created a video showing and explaining the best way to make a quality cake of bannock bread:

Cooking with a frying pan would be the easiest method if you have one at your disposal. However, a true prepper will be prepared for the possibility of not having a suitable cooking surface. So, wrapping the dough around a stick is another realistic cooking method. This may be the true survivalist way to cook bannock bread.

It is important to properly prepare the cooking stick from a non-toxic plant. First, select a fresh green stick. Next, strip bark from the cooking end of the stick. The bark can make the bread have a bitter taste. If you do not have a knife handy, try to peel the bark off with another abrasive object such as a rock or another branch. Finally, hold the green stripped end over your fire long enough to warm and sterilize it.

The sterilization step is important because bacteria tends to reside just inside a branch’s bark. However, there is no need to burn the stick or set it on fire. Heating it, so it is warm to the touch, should be sufficient.

Next, after the dough is prepared, begin attaching the dough to the warm stick. Wrapping and/or twisting the dough around the stick and pressing the dough onto the stick is the most efficient method. Once the dough is securely fastened to the cooking stick, hold it close enough to the fire so that it is not uncomfortable for you, but close enough that the dough can cook.

As with marshmallows and other campfire foods, the key to a fantastic loaf of “fire-roasted” bannock bread is consistent turning and heat. Keep in mind that since this cooking method involves more direct contact with fire and smoke it may taste very different from a pan-fried bannock bread.

For a detailed visual representation of how to prepare a cooking stick, along with some commentary from an experienced survivalist, watch the following YouTube video:

While the video is fairly long, the first five minutes will give you a good idea of how to prepare your cooking stick and securely attach the dough to it.

The third method, the least popular method, is placing the dough straight onto the campfire’s coals. This method finds its origins in the Australian Outback. This results in an ash-covered “Damper Bread” which can be buried in smoldering coals to cook. Then, when ready, the ashes are knocked off and the bread is eaten. If the risk was not a factor, it could be argued that this is the most practical method to learn for a prepper.

The difficulty in successfully cooking the bread without burning it makes this the least favorite and least practical method. Especially if you find yourself in a dangerous situation where you are dipping into limited resources, you may want to avoid this potentially wasteful approach.

However, for those interested, here are some instructions and video footage of how to successfully create a loaf of “Damper Bread”:

An Essential Staple for Every Prepper?

Now that you are an expert on the various ingredient ratios and cooking methods for bannock bread, you’ll be more prepared for any situation. This filling bread would be an asset to any prepper’s stockpile. The ingredients have extensive shelf lives, it is simple and easy to make, and does not necessarily need any tools or utensils.

For those experienced with bannock bread, what is your favorite recipe and/or cooking method? Is this food item something that you would consider? If you have any extra tips or tricks to share, please comment!

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About Teresa Fikes

My name is Teresa Fikes. I am a Homesteader, survivalist, prepper, historian, and writer plus much more all in one package deal. I was raised on a small family farm were I was taught at an early age to survive off the land without the help of modern conveniences. I am a writer by profession and a Homesteader by Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

2 comments

  1. Jones Seneschelle

    Thanks for the alternative ways to make Bannock. The only one I had previously was:

    Bannock

    ½ cup white flour – brimming
    ½ cup wheat flour – brimming
    3 tablespoons powdered milk
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon salt
    Water

    Mix the dry ingredients together -can be placed in a plastic bag to make at camp- or thoroughly if at home. Dribble in the water a little at a time to make a sticky dough. Divide into 4 parts, fry in a lightly oiled pan over a medium high heat until golden brown on both sides.

    Variations

    Millet, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and sugar, powdered butter or honey, chives, garlic, try various to sit you. Our don t divide and cook dough to make a camp pizza.

  2. like #1&#3 would be my choice cooked in a cast iron skillet. sounds good think I’ll make some . have done it with corn meal (corn cakes) as for me no gmo the real deal period.

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